Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My first visit to the library in freedom

August 2, 2011

This morning I woke up and A announced that she was going to the library with her kids.  I asked her if I could join her, and she said sure.  I stumbled around and finally found my credit card bill which lists my new address.  I got in the car and we went to the library.  I have always loved being in a library. For me it has always been a safe place of intellectual exploration where I am not judged for my lack of social skills and where I am allowed to wander freely.

What was special about this visit to the library was that it was the first time I was not going to the library in order to escape an abusive home situation.  Previously every visit to the library represented a brief and all too fleeting respite from an intolerably abusive environment at hope, and I went to the library knowing that I would eventually have to go back to the prison of my parents’ or grandmothers’ house.  I had the comfort and security of knowing that I would be able to return home to freedom for the first time and that I wouldn’t be abused as soon as I came home.  I didn’t have to prepare myself mentally for abuse and assault as soon as I got home.  I could leisurely wander in the library without fearing a return home to terror and cruelty.

I went and looked around at books. I am a strong supporter of the Iraqi liberation movement to remove Saddam from power.  And so I took out two books on the Iraq War, one of which was about the U.S. military rescuing an abused Iraqi teenage boy who provided intelligence to the U.S. military – about his own father.   I also looked around at the small section of books on Russia.  I found Edward Crenkshaw’s masterful book about nineteenth century Russia, which I had read in 2008 during my recovery from the car accident where I almost died.  This book was amazing and it helped me to learn about nineteenth century Russia for the first time.  This book allowed me to acquire a whole new set of heroes – the Decemberists, or the democratic aristocrats who tried to promote a constitutional monarchy in 1825.  I decided not to take out this book because I had already read it.  I instead decided to take out another summary of Russian history which I haven’t yet read.  I chose another book on pacifism and World War I  – in homage to my hero Dr. Maikel Nabil Sanad, the imprisoned Egyptian pacifist and pro-Israel activist who has inspired me with his courage, compassion, and love for my people the Jews.  I am interested to learn more about pacifism because of my deep admiration for Dr. Nabil. 

Finally I went to the Spanish language section of the library, which was in some respects better and more comprehensive than the English language section.  I thought about taking out a Spanish language novel by Isabelle Allende.  But I decided instead to take out a book on the brief history of Cuba by Jaime Suchlicki, who runs the Cuban and Cuban-American Studies Program at the University of Miami.  I want to learn more about the history of Cuba, and I also would ideally like to work with Mr. Suchlicki on his program to support the Venezuelan democracy movement to peacefully remove the Chavez regime. 

 I had one of those only-in-Miami moments in the library.  I saw the voter registration application was only available in Spanish, and so I grabbed it to begin filling it out.  Seeing my clearly non-Hispanic appearance, the clerk reminded me that the application was in Spanish.  I told the somewhat bewildered clerk that I also know Spanish.  And so I submitted a voter registration application in Spanish to Miami-Dade County.  Cheryl said yes it is a good thing that I am bilingual.

Unfortunately, I forgot to give Beverly my new phone number, and so when Aisa tried to reach me on my cell phone, she called Bev.  Not having my new phone number, Bev tried repeatedly to reach me on my old number.   When I got home, Bev asked me why I was unreachable on my cell phone.  I thought for a minute and asked Bev which number she was using.  When she told me it was the old one, I apologized for having forgotten to inform her of my new cell number.  I also sent her a message containing my new number – from my current phone. 

After we went to the library, A said she wanted to go to Walmart and asked me if I wanted to come along or if I wanted her to take me home first.  I said that I hadn’t planned on to visit Walmart but that actually it might be good for me to go and pick up one of my medicines which is there.  I told her that it would take an hour for my prescription to be refilled and asked her if that was ok.  She said that was fine.  Looking for something to read without messing up my library books, I spotted A’s copy of the Diaro Las Americas newspaper in Spanish and asked her if I could read it.   She said sure, and so while A went food shopping with her kids, I spent a pleasant hour eating and reading a Spanish newspaper.  This way I was relaxing and at the same time re-orienting my brain back to Spanish so I can do Spanish-lanaguage research on domestic violence with the people at the University of Miami.

A also told me her story in brief.  She began dating her boyfriend / husband when she was just 15 years old.  He hit her and emotionally abused her throughout their eight-year relationship.  They moved in together after two years of dating when A was just 17 years old.  A gave birth to her son J when she was only 19 years old.  The couple married when J was five months old and then moved to Arizona together so that her husband could take a job in that state.  A year ago, A gave birth to her second child, a daughter.  When her daughter turned a year old, she decided to leave her husband and take her children back to Florida with her to live near her parents.  She decided not to seek a restraining order against her husband because she is keeping confidentiality and not sharing her location with her husband.  She is also communicating with her husband only via email so that he cannot pinpoint her location through cell phone conversations with her.  Her husband would like her to return with her kids to him in Arizona, but thank goodness he is far away from her and has no way to locate her and her children. 

And so A is a single mother of two young children, and she herself is only 23 years old.  I am very thankful to her for patiently waiting for me in the car with two small kids – at the library and at Walmart.  A is a lovely young woman and mother – and I like her very much.  I enjoyed sharing stories with each other and supporting each other. 

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